I believe in the ability God has given teenagers to make a difference today. I also believe society at large underestimates young people’s talent, initiative taking potential and general ability to make it happen.
A few weeks ago a fifteen-year old boy, who plays for a soccer team I help coach, discovered we had been placed in a tournament’s second flight. Our team was about to play for the Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup championship, had won tournaments in Virginia and Maryland besides going undefeated in winning the regions strongest fall league. Getting anything less than the top flight felt like a slap in the face. Instead of pouting or complaining about the team’s tournament status, the boy decided to make it happen. He sent an email to the tournament director and spoke with swagger as he listed the team’s accomplishments. Within the next few days the team was moved up to the top championship bracket! Not only was the team moved up, it beat three highly ranked teams to win the title that goes along nicely with its State Championship.
I could miss the point and use the rest of my lines to talk soccer, but there is a much deeper principle to be reinforced than how to appropriately kick a ball. One of the most difficult leadership characteristics to develop is initiative. Every leader needs it. Every leader trying to nurture other leaders needs trainees to want it. Ultimately, if the person being trained doesn’t have a “fire in the belly” to make it happen then action doesn’t take place.
Jesus recognized this and spoke about it in Matthew 7:7-8. The Bible reads, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“ When we knock on doors we receive direction. When we ask questions we receive answers. God, through the life we live does not always give the answers we want or the prizes behind the doors we are looking to find. Knowing us better than we know ourselves, He provides exactly what is needed at exactly the right time so He can make it happen through us.
So the next time you see something in the world that seems out of place or just plain wrong, remember to Ask the Lord God to make it happen. Seek to make the world a better place. Knock on doors that hold opportunities for you to experience. Take the initiative. While you’re at it, don’t be surprised if God uses a teenager in the process!
Equipping leaders is in Christian Endeavor’s lifeblood. The positive stories we receive from youth workers we have empowered, encourage us in our purpose to Biblically develop youth as Christ-Centered leaders. For me, modeling this with the C.E. Team is important. Recently we ate lunch at a local Chick-Fil-A. I made contact in advance with the restaurant’s owner/operator because I have been impressed with their customer service each time I have pulled through the drive-in for waffle fries! The leader gave us two hours of his time when we only asked for fifteen minutes! Four critical insights were shared that are essential in our efforts to equip youth as leaders.
Requirements for hire- Teens interviewed at this Chick-Fil-A are watched for their eye contact, smile, engaging conversation, and ability to stay connected to a conversation. These four items are not as easy to live out for our tech-trendy teens as they may seem. Youth and adults alike put their noses in phones instead of eye to eye with people in their presence. Jesus engaged the people He met. The four requirements for hire listed above help youth be better equipped for life and leadership.
Solutions not Problems- The staff at Chick-Fil-A are taught to bring solutions if they are going to bring problems. This approach develops proactive thinking, avoids whining, and trains people as problem solvers instead of problem enhancers. The Body of Christ needs young leaders equipped to stand and make a difference by working toward solutions.
Raise the Bar- Chick-Fil-A does not settle for low expectations. Society tends to minimize the impact youth can make. At Christian Endeavor, we agree with Chick-Fil-A, don’t accept or settle for low expectations! Holding this attitude with youth in your church causes them to see the value both you and God see in them.
Skills can be taught, Character cannot- I disagree on this one, but I’m not hiring youth to run a multi-million dollar business. Chick-Fil-A’s position makes perfect sense because they don’t have time to mold a youth into someone with trust, honesty, and integrity. These things take time to nurture and Chick-Fil-A must hire people for immediate productivity.
The CE Leadership Academy, Imagine the Impact, teaches character comes before competency. Developing skills before deepening character can cause a person to be successful without being humbly grounded in Christ.
Thanks for handing off ministry to youth so they can carry the cause of Christ. Let me know how we at C.E. can serve you on the journey. Peace!
Exceptional leaders, the very best of the best, have blind spots. Discover how to recognize your blind spots in order to more effectively lead for Jesus Christ . . .
Recently I was shown a life area where everything had changed. Everything changed except me! My intentions were pure but I had a blind spot. I was trying to lead my family in daily devotion times before school. For years this worked. We used creative prayer methods, scripture readings, singing and dancing together- we did whatever we felt would honor the Lord. It was real and it was fun! This fall the joy disappeared and devotion time became more like tooth extracting. I shared my frustration with a friend who gently asked probing questions about my family. He inquired about each family member’s relationships and activities. He also uncovered that our family is moving across town where an adjoining apartment can be built for my mother. He probed with more questions about this transition and the changes our family will make in the process. Following this questioning time, my friend explained how life was changing but I hadn’t adjusted.
I sat back in my chair dumbfounded by the simple truth revealed to me. I was 100% sure my friend’s observation was on target. How could I have been so blind? My friend affirmed me as a leader, and then explained every great leader has blind spots.
You have blind spots too. They are diminishing your kingdom impact. Be better equipped for future leadership opportunities by taking the following three steps:
Step 1- Admit you have blind spots. This takes humility. 1 Peter 5:6 reads, “humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand and he will lift you up in due time.”
Step 2- Ask God to show you your blind spots. The rest of the world sees something you don’t see. The Holy Spirit can reveal things you cannot see.
Step 3- Build relationships with people who will lovingly speak truth into your life. My friend loved me enough to show me something I couldn’t see. Anger and frustration could have been my reaction, but my friend cared enough about me to share one of my blind spots anyway.
Even the most exceptional leaders have blind spots. Commit yourself to understanding your blind spots and lead “For Christ and the Church”.
Dave Coryell is Executive Director of Christian Endeavor Mid-Atlantic